Why Is My Car Radio Display Not Working? 5 Ways to Fix It




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It’s fantastic to have the top model of a car stereo with a digital display. You can see all the information you need regarding the music you are listening to, the navigation route you have to follow, and more.

The problem comes in when these fantastic pieces of technology just stop working. Read on to find out why and how to fix this.

The most common reason for a car radio display not working is blown fuse. However, if the fuse is not the problem, car radio display can malfunction due to a faulty dimmer switch, connection issues between the radio and the car’s electrical system, a faulty display unit or its bad connection with the stereo, or a problem with the car’s battery or alternator.

Tip: The most common reason for car radios not working can be blown or defective fuse, or faulty illumination wires. If this is the reason in your case, you may need to start the repair by replacing the defective fuse in your stereo. Check out my favorite car audio fuses on Amazon.com now.

Before making decisions about your car’s audio system, equip yourself with the fundamentals. Our guide on how car radios work can help.

Car Stereo Display Overview

Today, car radios have come leaps and bounds from the heavy, mechanical, and manual radios of the 1950s that only offered an AM//FM stereo with frequency and volume knobs.

Nowadays, most head units almost seem like you can launch a rocket into outer space with the great infotainment systems having digital displays, voice control, wireless capability, navigation, finding areas of interest, streaming from the net, and more.

However, there is a caveat when it comes to this fantastic technology. Because everything is based on computers and circuitry, there is a lot more room for errors and malfunctions to occur.

car stereo display does not work

You could roll vintage car stereo down a hill, and it would still be perfectly fine. However, if you have a cold and sneeze in the direction of your $500 Double Din aftermarket infotainment system, and it is not set up correctly, it won’t function.

Why My Stereo Display Does Not Work?

When you are wondering why is your car radio display not working, do not worry. There are not many things that can be wrong.

Let’s first take a look at the most common problem that car stereos face when they do not turn on, and then we will go through an adequate solution.

What Are the Main Car Radio Display Problems?

The most common fault that most car radios experience is that of a faulty fuse. Remember that a fuse is designed to be the weakest link in a circuit.

This means that if something goes wrong (like a short to ground), the dedicated fuse will take the brunt of the damage and burn out hopefully before any severe damage can be incurred by your car or any equipment that the circuit was connected to.

If you have not assumed it already, this will be one fix that you can apply to your head unit and could cause the display screen not to turn on, and I will explain it in detail below.

Other Reasons for Car Radio Display Problems

When a fuse is blown, not only car display does not work, but the whole radio does not function. If however, your radio works but the screen remains blank, you will need to consider a few other factors when determining why your car stereo display is not working correctly.

Display Brightness Settings

  • What is it?: Sometimes, the solution is simpler than you think. The display settings might be set too low, making it seem as if the display isn’t working.
  • Example: Imagine turning down the brightness on your smartphone to save battery, and later wondering why the screen seems off. The same concept applies here.
  • Quick Tip: Head over to the settings menu, usually accessed by a physical button on the car stereo. Adjust the brightness, and you might just find your display coming back to life.

Connector Wires Malfunction

  • What is it?: Over time, the wires connecting the display to the power source or the main unit can become loose or damaged.
  • Example: Think of it like a charger cable that’s been bent too many times – eventually, it might not charge your device correctly.
  • Solution: Checking and ensuring all wires are securely connected can often resolve the issue. If a wire seems damaged, it might be time for a replacement.

Broken LCD Panel

  • What is it?: The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panel can break due to physical impact or wear and tear over time.
  • Sign: If you see cracks or dead pixels on the display even when it lights up, the LCD panel might be the issue.
  • Next Steps: A broken LCD will require professional repair or replacement.

Defective Head Unit

  • What is it?: The head unit is essentially the brain of your car stereo. If it malfunctions, several components, including the display, can be affected.
  • How to Identify: If other features of the stereo, like audio output, are also not working, the head unit could be the root cause.
  • Solution: Professional diagnostics can pinpoint the issue, and you may need a head unit replacement.

Faulty Backlight

  • What is it?: The backlight illuminates the display. If it’s defective, the display will look dark even if it’s showing information.
  • Example: It’s like trying to view your laptop screen with the backlight off. The content is there, but without illumination, it’s nearly impossible to see.
  • Fix: This issue typically requires a new backlight or professional repair.

Activated Anti-Theft Technology

  • What is it?: Some car radios have anti-theft features that disable the display if they detect tampering.
  • Solution: Refer to your car’s manual. Often, you’ll need to enter a code to unlock the stereo.

Faulty Power Button

  • What is it?: Sometimes, the power button can malfunction, preventing the display and unit from turning on.
  • Solution: A simple button replacement by a professional might do the trick.

Head Unit Power Issues

  • What is it?: The unit might be receiving insufficient power due to a faulty power supply or other electrical issues.
  • Example: Imagine trying to run a high-power appliance on a low-power source; it just won’t work efficiently.
  • Solution: Checking the car’s fuse box or having a professional assess the power supply can identify and remedy the issue.

Keep in mind that a blown fuse is also part of this checklist that you will need to go over when determining the car stereo display’s fault.

5 Ways to Fix Your Car Radio When the Display Does Not Work

When your car stereo is new and you have a warranty, the easiest solution is to take the stereo to the retailer, and they will fix it. The more complicated situations are when your radio is older with the warranty expired.

Keep in mind that all cars are different, and all car systems are different, including a car audio system. I have outlined the basic principles and the most common cause that are usually at fault with these problems’ solutions.

#1. Check the Dimmer Setting or Check the Illumination Wire.

Most modern car stereos with a digital display screen have a dimmer function, and this will be connected to the radio via the illumination wire.

Sometimes, the car stereo display is too bright, and when the radio does not have a day/night display function, most drivers including me, prefer to turn down the display brightness (especially at night).

The solution for this is two-fold. If the dimmer is turned down, then you will just have to adjust the setting and turn up the brightness. Usually, the dimmer works in tandem with the volume know, and this is how you will change it.

However, there will first be a setting that you have to choose in order to select the dimmer function mode.

If this doesn’t work, then there may be a problem with the illumination wire (it may be broken or loose), and if you remove the radio and check the wiring, you will be looking for an orange or orange/black wire.

Going through how to rewire a car stereo is beyond this article’s scope but check out my other article on How To Wire Car Speakers To The Radio Without The Harness, where I cover car audio wiring.

#2. Check the Car Radio Connectors

Your car radio is not one solid part. This means that the display is separate from the actual radio unit. Wires and connectors are used to link them together, which means that there could be a problem with the wires, especially in those points:

  • Soldered connection points
  • Mechanical connection points

Depending on which connection type you have for your display unit, a few elements could cause the problem.

Removing the display from the car stereo could be a bit of an issue if you do not consider yourself a DIY individual. The process is not too complicated and well explained in the short video below.

In some instances, and depending on your head unit model and display like some of the models from Sony, removing the LCD display is very easy.

If there are mechanical connectors (something similar to a harness) that are broken or damaged in any way, and you think this could be the cause of the problem, it may be possible to purchase those connectors from a repair shop. Otherwise, you will have to take it in and let them source the parts for you.

If your display has soldering joints, you can see that a soldering point or wire has come loose and you, again, are comfortable with a little DIY, then all you need to do is solder it back together correctly.

Take note that you use different types of solder for various connection points and circuit boards, though.

#3. Check All Brightness Settings and Reset the Radio

If your display is completely turned off, then you may not be able to attempt this fix.

However, if the display is dimmed down and you still have power, then the first thing you should do is check your user manual and go through all the settings and presets that your radio offers to try to find brightness settings that could be used to adjust your radio back to normal.

#4. Check for a Problem with Head Unit, Backlight, or LCD

Suppose you have already gone through all the steps and procedures that I have laid out for you, such as checking the dimmer, checking the illumination wire, checking settings and presets, trying to reboot the system, and checking the fuses. In that case, there may be an issue with one of three things with your car radio.

  • It could be that your main unit is faulty
  • The backlight of the display is defective
  • The LCD itself is flawed

In a situation like this, the only option you have is to take it in for repair (if it can be repaired). Otherwise, if you have a service plan or an aftermarket radio with a warranty, you should be able to replace it without any hassles.

I went through this scenario many years ago and based on this experience, I wrote an article about refurbished car radios.

#5. Check the Fuse of the Car Radio

The main reason the car radio display may not be working is because of a bad fuse. I already touched on this briefly because it is the most common car stereo (radios) problem.

Checking a fuse is also the cheapest and best way to repair your car radio because a fuse is meant to be replaceable.

Furthermore, the fuses used for your radio and other electronics within your car are relatively cheap to replace. Seriously, you can get an entire box of fuses (that’s over 250 fuses) from Amazon.

With this kit, you will never have to worry about another fuse blowing in your car, probably for the rest of your life, unless you have a problem that persists and keeps blowing your fuses.

Where Do I Find the Fuse for My Car Radio?

Although easy to replace, you may have a problem finding the defective fuse in the first place.

In many cars, the fuse would be placed on the radio, so you would have to take out the entire stereo to get to the back of it just to replace the fuse.

Sometimes this meant having to take off part or most of the dashboard. If this is the case for your car and stereo model, then this might be a hassle, and you may have to take it to an automotive repair shop.

However, if you do not have trouble getting your hands dirty and are used to a little DIY, you should be fine. The only thing you will need is a few hours of free time.

In addition to the fuse placed at the back of the stereo, another radio fuse is placed in the fuse box, which you can find under the dashboard, near the driver’s side, or in the engine compartment.

replacing blown fuse in car
Box with fuses in 2016 VW Passat

How Do I Know Which Fuse I Need to Replace?

The fuse box will have a lid, and branded on the underside of it will be either a picture or some form of diagram, and on that picture, you will see the list of fuses associated with specific names (these are the codes).

You may be wondering why some of those code names don’t refer to the radio. Sometimes manufacturers have combined circuits in your vehicle, and the fuse used for your radio will also be used for your interior lights. In general, you should replace any fuse you will find that is blown.

How to Replace the Fuse?

#1. Turn off the vehicle.

#2. Remove the old fuse using a pair of fuse pullers or needle-nose pliers.

#3. Insert a new fuse of the same rating.

#4. Turn on the vehicle and check the radio display.

Touch Screen Car Stereo Issues and Fixes

Touchscreen car stereos are a fantastic leap in automotive entertainment and utility. They’re sleek, responsive, and packed with features. However, like all tech, they’re not without their hiccups.

Most Notable Problems with Touch Screen Car Stereo


This is when your stereo doesn’t respond to touch or responds with a delay.

Possible causes: Dirt and grime on the screen, issues with the system software, or internal damage.

Wiring Problem

Sometimes, the screen might act unpredictably or not turn on at all.

Possible causes: A disconnected wire, a short circuit, or wear and tear over time.

Prone To Physical Damage

Touch screens, by nature, can be susceptible to scratches, cracks, or dents.

Tip: Regularly check for any physical damage as this can affect performance.

Software Error

The system may freeze, not load apps, or behave erratically.

Possible causes: Corrupt software, need for an update, or a failed system update.

Guide to Fixing a Broken Touch Screen Car Stereo

Caution: Before attempting any repairs, ensure the vehicle is turned off, and the negative battery connection removed.

Remove the Car Stereo

  • Use a trim removal tool to carefully pry the stereo from its dock.
  • Unplug any connectors from the back.

Disassemble the Car Stereo

  • Remove screws or clips securing the device.
  • Separate the main unit from the screen panel.

Detach the Main Wires of the Screen Panel

  • Look for the primary connectors or ribbon cables attached to the screen.
  • Gently unplug or disconnect them.

Disconnect the Touch Screen

  • The touch layer is usually a separate component from the display.
  • Carefully detach any connectors linking it to the main board.

Remove the Broken Touch screen

  • This might require removing a few screws or adhesive.
  • Lift the touch layer off the LCD delicately.

Clean the LCD or LED Panel

  • Use a soft cloth and a suitable screen cleaner to gently wipe the LCD.
  • This removes any dirt, fingerprints, or residues.

Install the New Touch Screen

  • Place the new touch layer on the LCD.
  • Secure it using screws or the provided adhesive.
  • Reconnect any connectors or ribbon cables.

Add a Screen Protector

  • Consider adding a screen protector to prevent future scratches or damage.
  • Ensure it’s designed for car use, as these are typically more durable.

Reassemble Everything Carefully

  • Work backward from your disassembly steps.
  • Ensure all connectors are plugged in and all screws are tightened.

While touchscreen car stereos bring a modern touch to our rides, they come with their set of challenges. With the right approach and a little patience, most issues can be addressed without a trip to the mechanic.

What to Do When My Car Stereo Has Power but Not Display?

In the instance where your radio is still working, but there is no display, then one scenario could be that a setting or the dimmer was turned down all the way. In this case, you can try resetting your car radio to the factory settings.

This is slightly different from adjusting the dimmer and checking functions and settings on your car radio. Most radios, if not all due to their complicated nature, will have a reset button.

A reset button is usually found behind the removed faceplate of the radio. You will typically need something long and thin to get to the reset button, like a needle or a pen. Just remember that if you reset the radio, you will lose all saved data.

Why Is Car Touch Screen Not Working After Cleaning?

Water or moisture is the main problem that many people face after cleaning the radio screen.

The screen stops working when the liquid gets behind the LCD and short circuits the connection between the display and the radio unit.

Display Works, But No Touch Screen Functionality

It’s not uncommon to encounter an unresponsive touch screen, especially after a cleaning session. Ever been through that moment of panic? Let’s delve into the reasons and offer some solutions.

Reasons A Touch Screen Is Not Working

#1. Residual Cleaning Solution

  • Explanation: If you cleaned your touch screen with a liquid solution and it got in between the touch screen layers or penetrated its sensitive areas, it might cause temporary or permanent malfunction.
  • Solution: Ensure the screen is completely dry. If possible, avoid using excessive liquid while cleaning. Instead, lightly dampen a microfiber cloth.

#2. Static Electricity Build-up

  • Explanation: Cleaning can generate static electricity, which may disrupt the touch screen’s functionality.
  • Solution: Disconnect the car’s battery for a few minutes and then reconnect. This can reset the system and dissipate static.

#3. Improper Cleaning Tools

  • Explanation: Using rough cloths or abrasive materials can cause microscopic scratches, affecting the screen’s touch sensitivity.
  • Solution: Always use a soft microfiber cloth. If you suspect damage, a professional evaluation might be necessary.

#4. Pressure Damage

  • Explanation: Applying too much pressure while cleaning might damage the touch-sensitive layer.
  • Solution: Always use gentle strokes when cleaning. If the touch layer is damaged, it might need a replacement.

#5. Disrupted Calibration

  • Explanation: Some touch screens require calibration to detect touch accurately. Cleaning might accidentally misalign this calibration.
  • Solution: Refer to your car manual on how to recalibrate the touch screen system.

#6. Accidental Settings Change

  • Explanation: While cleaning, you might have inadvertently changed some settings, disabling the touch functionality.
  • Solution: If you can navigate using buttons or knobs, check the settings to ensure the touch functionality is enabled.

#7. Software Glitch

  • Explanation: Sometimes, the issue is not with the cleaning but a coincidental software error that occurred around the same time.
  • Solution: Restarting the system or performing a factory reset can solve software-related issues.

If you’ve checked all the potential issues above and still face problems, it might be best to consult with the car manufacturer or a professional technician.

Keeping our screens clean is essential, but ensuring they function correctly afterward is equally crucial. Safe driving and happy troubleshooting!

Why Is My Car Radio Touch Screen Not Responding?

The touchscreen is only fun when it’s fully responsive. Otherwise, your car radio does not function.

It often happens that touchscreens in car radios lose responsiveness, and there are two main reasons why this happens:

  • Dirt or dust on the screen blocks its direct contact with your fingers, causing the touchscreen to be unresponsive. To avoid this, clean the screen regularly with a microfiber cloth and do not touch the screen with dirty hands.
  • Another reason for the screen not to respond is when it loses its calibration. For example, you have to re-calibrate your touch screen if you notice it does not respond to your fingers or register the touch when your finger is in an “offset” to the icon you need to touch.

Why Is My Car Radio Display Fading?

When the LCD car screen is fading, there is a problem with either connection of the flat wire or with the liquid screen itself.

It is a common problem, especially in the one-din head units, but the fix is easy but not always possible at home.

Possible Causes

  • Dimmer Setting: Over time, you might accidentally adjust the dimmer setting, leading the display to appear faint.
  • Aging Backlight: Like all bulbs, the backlight of your radio display can wear out.
  • Voltage Issues: Insufficient voltage can result in a dim display.


  • Check the dimmer setting and adjust accordingly.
  • Consider replacing the backlight if the radio is old.
  • Use a multimeter to test the voltage reaching the display; if it’s low, there might be a wiring issue.

Why Is the Android Radio Touch Screen Not Working?

When your android touch screen has stopped working, in most cases, it means that it has frozen. So you can touch it at any point, and it will not respond.

Possible Causes

  • Software Glitches: Sometimes, the Android system can encounter errors.
  • Hardware Issue: The touch screen might be damaged or malfunctioning.

The solution for this is relatively easy.

  • First, you have to put all your fingers on the screen and hold it for a couple of seconds.
  • Then, the screen will come to the re-calibration mode, and it will reset.
  • When it does, you will see on the screen the information, press the “Okay” button, and it will be back to normal.

Why Car Radio Screen Went Black?

Screens in the car radios can randomly go black after connecting additional equipment like the backup camera or reinstalling the software.

Possible Causes

  • Loose Connections: A jolt or bump could loosen internal connections.
  • Failed Backlight: If the display’s backlight fails, the screen might appear black.
  • Software Error: In some cases, the system may freeze, causing a black screen.

If the screen is not broken and is working fine but suddenly lost its screen, the simplest way to fix it is to press the reset button and hold it depending on the radio for between 5 and 10 seconds.

After that, most screens come back to normal functioning.

If the display panel on the car stereo receiver is dim or does not light, the connectors may need to be cleaned, or a mode setting needs to be adjusted.

Another problem can occur when the radio works, but it has internal screen damage. To fix this, you have to either disassemble the radio, remove the screen, measure the electrical resistance on all connections, or give the radio to a professional.

Why Is My Radio Screen Dim?

The dimmer setting allows dimming the display and buttons at night, so it does not have to be as bright as during the day.

Dimmer on the head unit can be set manually, synchronized to the clock, or activated with your car lights, and most display problems are related to the last option when the radio has to be connected to the car lights.

If the display is too dim with the brightness set to the highest level, the dimmer could be activated. Your radio may be equipped with a separate brightness setting for when the dimmer mode is activated.

This can also happen if the car sends an incorrect signal to the radio indicating that the car lights are on and the display should be dimmed.

To solve this problem, you should manually switch the dimmer off or set the dimmed brightness to the maximum level.

If, after changing the settings on your radio, the display is still too dim or too bright, the radio may be faulty, and you may need to contact the repair service of the radio manufacturer.

Further Reading About Car Screen Issues

If you like this post, below are more related to this topic that you may find interesting. If you do, click the link below and enjoy another article.


It’s all good and well that nowadays you can purchase the most fantastic car radio with a superb display that can achieve incredible things.

However, compared to older, more robust car stereos, the risk of something getting damaged or not working correctly is a real issue and one you will have to face if you are not willing to take it to an automotive repair shop.

Furthermore, there are quite a few factors that could be at the root of this problem. However, most of them are not severe, and they can be rectified without the need to take your car in so your radio can be repaired.

I have covered these issues, and they include a faulty illumination wire, an incorrect dimming mode or setting, and a bad fuse.

The last thing to note is that if you have gone through all the steps I have provided, and your car stereo display is still not working, you will most likely have to take it to a professional service to figure out what the problem is.